Sunday, March 3, 2013

This Week in Titusville, March 1, 1888

Our Guests.


The President on Indian River.


 The Presidential Party Enjoying a Grand Trip.


From Titusville to Rock Ledge and Return.
Last Friday a Grand Jubilee for the Whole of Indian River.

     When the news arrived here last Wednesday afternoon that President Cleveland and wife, with several others, would visit the Indian River on Friday it was hardly believed by the many that the news was true, but as the announcement came from the railway officials at Jacksonville, it was published in the columns of the STAR that they would be here, and on Friday morning, as per the arranged programme, the fact of their coming was realized. 
     At 11 o’clock Thursday night the President left Palatka for Titusville, drawn by engine No. 9, with trusty Dan Shea at the throttle.  The run was made very slowly, so as to allow the guests to revive themselves with “Tired nature’s sweet restorer, balmy sleep.”  About 5 o’clock the train stopped at a secluded spot about a mile from Titusville, and so gently was the stop made that the guests were not aware of it.  The President and wife were the first to arise, but the others were not far behind.  Here the train remained for about three hours before entering our lively little town.   About half past seven breakfast was served by the skilled chef in charge, which was an excellent one, and enjoyed to that extent by appetites whetted by the exhilarating atmosphere of Florida.
     At 7:30 prompt the end of the railroad wharf was covered with people anxious to get a glimpse of the President and his wife and the party, consisting of Secretary Whitney and Mrs. Whitney, and Col. Lamont and wife.  Mr. Moran, of the Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railway; Mr. A. L. Reed of the Atlantic Coast Line, and Mr. Edwin Martin representing the press, also accompanied the party.  Not, however, until 8:15 did the train make its appearance, when it was received with a cheer.  The engine was prettily decorated with bunting and flowers, while the steamer Rockledge was a sight of beauty to behold. 
     In a brief way we wish to mention the decorations of the steamer.  The saloon and dining room were the parts trimmed.  Thursday afternoon and evening Capt. Paddison and Mr. Verbeke, assisted by Mrs. Pritchard and Miss Pritchard, also Mr. Mackenzie and others, with the aid of the steward, Mr. Baker, placed an exhibit of flowers, fruits, moss, etc., that, in the words of Mrs. Cleveland, “surpassed anything they had seen in the State.”
     As the party wished to travel without any attempt of ceremony, they were escorted to the steamer at 8:30 by Mr. Moroan and Captain Paddison.  The appearance of Mrs. Cleveland on the forward deck of the steamer, with her pleasing countenance wreathed with smiles, and the jolly expression of the President as he expanded his lungs with something less than a cubic yard of Indian River ozonic atmosphere, was the signal for several cheers from the crowded wharf, which was supplemented by the screaming of the whistles of the Rockledge and Engine No. 9, commingling together as the Rockledge swiftly glided down the river. 
     The day was all that could be desired.  The sun shone brightly, with a balmy southwest breeze.  Many expressions of wonder and delight were made as the many beautiful places on the river were passed.
     At half past eleven, the Rockledge stopped at Mr. G.S. Hardee’s wharf where the party landed and held a reception under the shade of several live oaks in front of his charming residence.  A goodly number of Indian River people shook hands with the President…………Mrs. Cleveland picked the first orange from the laden branches, which was “followed in suit” by the others in the party, while Hardee peeled one of the finest oranges in the grove for the President a la Florida style.  One variety of Mr. Hardee’s oranges will hereafter be known strictly as the Cleveland orange, as the President was extremely pleased with that one variety.  After this the party walked for a half mile along the river to the Hotel Indian River, where they were received by Mr. J. M. Lee, the proprietor, and welcomed by music from the hotel band.   The party was photographed on the veranda of the building, ………….…………The President was presented with a set of resolutions at Rockledge by the patriotic citizens of that place……(Resolutions listed)………...
     The Rockledge landed at the railroad wharf at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, where the train was waiting to carry the party to Sanford.  After passing through the throng of people to the car, the members of the party remained on the rear of the platform for a few minutes, looking with smiles at the crowd around them. ……In a few minutes the train started and sped away to Sanford….supper was partaken at Winter Park after which the party started on their return to Washington ……..
     Many of the citizens of LaGrange and Mims visited Titusville during the day, and their efforts in adding decorations were highly appreciated by our citizens.  While the fruits and flowers were furnished by all our sister towns, we feel that these places should receive their proper credit, for they donated liberally.
     Mrs. C. B. Magruder had prepared several presents for different members of the party, consisting of fruits and flowers, but unfortunately these, in the hurry of the moment, were forgotten…………
     People from all the adjacent towns and villages, as far away as Melbourne, were present to see the President and his wife………
     President Cleveland was certainly born under a lucky star; so pleasant and successful a trip in every minor detail is almost phenomenal.  It certainly will induce him to visit us again.  Next time he should make a stay of several days.  He would then find out what real enjoyment is…………
     The stars and stripes floated from many a building and flagstaff in Titusville, and the Titus House was neatly ornamented with bunting in honor of the President’s visit.
    Mrs. Cleveland wore a steel gray checked traveling silk, trimmed with plush and bonnet to match.  Her attire was noticeable for the absence of jewelry, which is to be highly commended in the “first lady of the land.”
     Captain Paddison was surprised at the raid made upon the flowers after the party left the steamer.  Everyone wanted a memento of the occasion.  Mrs. Pritchard received the chair occupied by the President’s wife during the trip on the steamer. 
     The Presidential party remembered the efforts of the good church people of Titusville, and cast some pretty big “mites” in the little jugs placed on the steamer by the Sunday school children.
     Mrs. Cleveland said the display on the Rockledge surpassed anything they had seen in the State; the President said it had been the most enjoyable day of his life.  He speaks of the Indian River as having the best natural advantages and the most inviting prospects of all the South.
      The people of Indian River only regret that they were forced to part with the President and Mrs. Cleveland on such short notice.  This must not be so the next time they come. 


  1. Welcome to the GeneaBloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories" and family saga novels:
    "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited"
    The Heritage Tourist at In-Depth Genealogist:

  2. Grover Cleveland had two interesting terms as President, but I would recommend the Wikipedia entry for most of it.
    However, it should be noted that Cleveland was not married when elected and only married in 1886, since this trip was in 1888, he was newly married.
    His bride was the daughter of an old friend and only 22 years old when she became the First Lady, she would have been all of 24 years old when she visited Titusville.


    Capt. Paddison's papers are in the Drum Library at East Carolina University in North Carolina. They have a photo of the President and his wife aboard the ROCKLEDGE, and there is a manifest of the day with the signatures of President Cleveland and others. Capt. Paddison sent a gift of oranges to the Whitehouse later, and had a note of thanks returned. As the railroad was built and moved further south in Florida, the river steamers were put out of business. The ROCKLEDGE followed the railroad south, ending up on the Miami waterfront, used as a hotel and gambling establishment and then rotting for years until 1913 when it was towed out to sea a few miles and sunk.